A former Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has blamed former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Nyesom Wike for the inability of the state to take possession of the two helicopters, which were seized by the Nigeria Customs Service and handed over to the Nigeria Air Force last week.
Amaechi, who is now the minister of transportation, was said to have initiated the importation of the helicopters while serving as the governor of the oil-rich state. Wike said in an interview on Saturday that the two helicopters were brought into the country by Amaechi with Rivers State money. He added that “outrageous import imposed on the two helicopters delayed their clearance” by the state government.
But Amaechi said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday that the state government under his leadership decided to import the armoured helicopters to fight criminals who he said were masquerading as militants, kidnappers and all other elements while he held sway as the governor of Rivers State.
He said he had no choice than to purchase the two helicopters for the use of the state in fighting crime. The statement read, “With a strong political will to tackle these menace and make the State a safe place, Amaechi initiated a lot of measures to deal with the menace. “Purchasing these helicopters was one of the measures the Amaechi administration took to curb the clandestine and criminal activities in the state.
“And the decision to go for these helicopters was based on the advice and recommendation of security experts and specialists that were working closely with our Nigerian security agents to rid the state of these criminals- kidnappers, pipeline vandals, vicious political cultists etc.
“Sequel to the recommendation of security experts, the Rivers State Government bought the two Bell 412 security surveillance helicopters during the administration of Amaechi, in collaboration with the federal government through the office of the National Security Adviser.”
It said the Federal Government then was very impressed with his administration’s security plan to curb criminality in the State and supported the plan all the way. The statement added, “To show their support, the Federal government through the office of the NSA contributed $15m, about half of the total sum, towards the purchase of the helicopters. Also, the then former President Goodluck Jonathan administration granted waivers to the Rivers State government to purchase and import the helicopters.”
According to the statement, trouble started when his government was ready to get the two helicopters to the country from the United States of America. It said, “However, trouble started many months later when the helicopters became ready for the Rivers State Government to take possession of them and use to fight crime and the criminals in the land and creeks of the State.
“The President Goodluck Jonathan administration frustrated and rebuffed all attempts by Amaechi and the Rivers State government to take possession of the helicopters. “Note that the said helicopters were partly funded by the Federal Government and that would be operated and managed by federal security agencies in collaboration with the Rivers State government.
“This strange twist was most baffling to the Rivers State government. Many would recall that, Amaechi as Governor of Rivers State at different times cried out, spoke loudly about the refusal of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration to allow the Rivers State government takes possession of the security surveillance helicopters.
“It was about security, the safety of lives and properties, but the Jonathan administration refused and bluntly blocked the Rivers State government from taking possession of the helicopters. “The same helicopters the Federal Government had months back, partly funded and had granted approvals and waivers for the purchase and importation into the country.”